Exploring our housing needs

In 2021, we prepared a housing needs report to help us better understand our current and future housing needs.

Along with analyzing housing and community data, we conducted community engagement to provide further insights into key areas of housing need. We will use the report to help inform future planning and decision-making.

This work stems from a 2019 provincial government amendment to the Local Government Act that required municipal governments to complete housing needs reports by April 2022 and then update them every five years.

Download the original report from November, 2021

2023 update to the original report

Staff prepared an updated housing needs report that reflects the most current 2021 census data and recent development information. The revised report was presented to Council at their regular meeting on July 24, 2023.

Download the updated report

Highlights from the 2021 report

Our population profile

Experiencing some growth

Between 2006 and 2016, the District grew by approximately 3,400 people and 1,370 new households. Our growth rate during this period was 4.1%, which was higher than the District of West Vancouver’s growth rate (0.8%) but lower than the City of North Vancouver’s (17.1%), and was about a quarter of the region’s growth rate (16.4%). Most people who moved to the District recently came from somewhere else in BC or Canada (73%).

A community of families and older adults

When compared to the region as a whole, we have a higher percentage of children and teenagers and adults over the age of 45. The share of residents over the age of 65, in particular, has continued to increase since 2006. At the same time, the average household size in the District has declined, which is typical of an aging population. Just over half (51%) of households in the District are made up of one or two people. We also see a lower percentage of people aged 20-44 compared to the region, and this share has continued to decline.  

Increasing number of households are renting 

The majority of households in the District own their homes (79%) compared to those renting (21%). However, between 2006 and 2016, most of the new households were renters (1,170 out of 1,370, or 85%).

Incomes tend to be higher, especially for owners

In 2016, the median household income in the District was $103,889, which is a 14% increase from 2006. However, owners tend to make significantly more than renters. The median household income for owner households is $119,465, double what the median household income is for renters ($59,344). These incomes are higher than what is seen for owners and renters regionally.  

Our housing profile

Single-family homes are the most common type of housing 

Approximately 72% of our housing stock is low-density, detached or semi-detached housing, which includes predominately single-family housing (52%), but also apartments in a duplex (including secondary suites) (18%), and other semi-detached housing (2%). The remainder of our housing stock is row houses (13%), apartments in a building with fewer than five storeys (13%), and apartments in buildings with five or more storeys (6%).

Homes tend to be larger

Most of the District’s housing stock (70%) is comprised of homes with three or more bedrooms. Two-bedroom homes are 20% of our housing and one-bedroom homes are only 10%. There are very few studio or bachelor units in the District.

Housing is becoming more expensive relative to incomes

Between 2006 and 2016, the average sales price of a home in the District increased by 89% and the median monthly rent for purpose-built rental housing increased by 38%. In contrast, the median income only increased by 14% at the same time.

Purpose-built rental housing tends to be older and have low vacancy 

Purpose-built rental housing tends to be more affordable and more secure than rental units in what is called the secondary market, which are rented by private owners (e.g. secondary suites). Only about 25% of the District’s renters live in purpose-built rental housing and most of these units (69%) were built before 1980, meaning that a large proportion of this housing could be at risk of redevelopment. For most of the last 15 years, the vacancy rates for these units have remained below 3%, whereas a “healthy” vacancy rate is generally considered to be between 3% and 5%.

Number of affordable housing units increasing, but many people are still struggling

As of 2020, the District had 1,441 non-market housing units, with 394 more that have been approved but are not yet fully built. However, there are still many people who live in the District who are in core housing need or who are on BC Housing’s waitlist for affordable housing.

Existing housing need

If a household is paying 30% or more of its before-tax income on housing, or are living in a place with not enough bedrooms for the number of family members, or are in a place that is not in good repair, and cannot reasonably afford an alternative housing option, then they are considered to be in core housing need.

Renters experience core housing need at higher rates 

When looking at the total number of households in core housing need (3,100 households), over half (1,600 households) are renters, even though renter households only make up one-fifth (21%) of the total number of households in the District. In particular need of additional support are households that tend to experience the highest rates of core housing need, including senior-led households, recent immigrants, one-person households, single parents, households where one or more person has an activity limitation, and Indigenous households.

Both owners and renters struggle with affordability

Approximately 6,700 households (22% of all households) in the District spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Close to 20% of owners and 40% of renters in the District spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Projected housing need

The population and household projections presented in the Housing Needs Report offer a glimpse at a possible future scenario. They are based on historical growth patterns and change over the previous 30 years. These past trends are projected forward to see what the District may look like if these trends are maintained.

However, several factors can impact what growth the District will actually experience, including shifts in the housing market, the economy, and planning and development decisions. The projections do not tell us what the District should look like in the future, only what it may look like.

Continued growth expected

By 2031, it is estimated that the District’s population will be approximately 104,800. As part of this growth, the District could gain about 7,000 new households, most of whom are expected to be owners (78%).

New housing already on its way will help meet the needs of new households

With just over 2,500 new housing units coming (approved by Council but are not yet fully built) that could house some of these new households, a total of approximately 4,500 additional housing units would be needed to accommodate the overall projected growth in households.

Need for housing with a range of bedrooms

It is also anticipated that of these 7,000 new households, between 3,000 and 4,000 would need studio or 1-bedroom units, 1,000 to 2,000 would need 2-bedroom units, and about 1,800 would need units with three or more bedrooms. If additional supports are not provided, it is anticipated that there will be an increase in households experiencing core housing needs.

Key statements of need

Based on stakeholder engagement and supported by data regarding core housing need, the Housing Needs Report identifies a number of key needs in the District. Further detail can be found in Section 6.2 of the Housing Needs Report:

Affordable housing: The cost of both renting and owning has increased considerably in recent years. Homeownership is out of reach for most households making the median income. Although purpose-built rentals are relatively affordable for families, they can still be largely unaffordable for individuals living alone or single parents. As of 2021, there are 768 households on the BC Housing Waitlist for non-market housing. There is a need for more affordable housing options across the housing continuum for both owners and renters.

Rental housing: Renter households are growing in the District of North Vancouver, accounting for 85% of new households between 2006 and 2016 (1,170 out of 1,370 new households). As of 2020, the vacancy rate for rental housing was low: 2.8% overall, ranging between 2.1% and 3.8% depending on the number of bedrooms. More rental housing with varying numbers of bedrooms that is affordable for families with a range of incomes is needed.

Housing for seniors: Senior-led (65+) renter households are the largest age group in the District in core housing need, with 47% of senior households being in core household need. As the population ages and the number of seniors grows, a range of additional housing supports, both market and non-market, will be required to support this demographic group. These options include smaller forms of housing for seniors looking to downsize, more affordable rentals for seniors, and more care supports.

Housing for immigrants: Immigrants, particularly recent immigrants, experience core housing need at higher rates than non-immigrant households and may have different housing requirements, such as a need for larger homes to accommodate intergenerational families, or may be best served when services are near to where they live.

Housing for families: There is a need for more affordable options for families – single-detached homes are largely unattainable to own or rent. The need for both affordable ownership and affordable rental options is apparent from both the affordability analysis that was conducted and from the engagement process.

Housing for individuals experiencing homelessness: The number of individuals experiencing homelessness has increased throughout the North Shore and there is an urgent need for housing options to accommodate these individuals and their range of needs – of particular note, youth, women fleeing violence, and seniors.

Accessible housing: More accessible units along the housing continuum are needed to meet the diverse needs of persons with accessibility and mobility challenges. In particular, affordable housing options for those on Disability Assistance with a range of supports for individuals who require it are needed.

Housing for Indigenous households: Indigenous persons are in a greater housing crisis per capita than the rest of the population and make up the majority of those who experience homelessness, both regionally and on the North Shore. Additional non-market housing options are needed as low-end market housing is often still out of reach for very low-income Indigenous households.

Project timeline

  • Project launch: April 2021
  • Data collection and preliminary analysis: April – May 2021
  • Community and stakeholder engagement: June – September 2021
  • Data analysis: July – August 2021
  • Draft housing needs report council workshop: October 25, 2021
  • Final housing needs report: November – December 2021 

Related Council documents 

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